Proust's Cup of Tea: Homoeroticism and Victorian Culture, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Proust's Cup of Tea

Homoeroticism and Victorian Culture, 1st Edition

By Emily Eells


248 pages

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Hardback: 9780754605188
pub: 2002-06-28
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Proust's Cup of Tea analyzes Proust's reading of various Victorian authors and shows how they contributed to A la recherche du temps perdu. This book proves that British literature and art played a fundamental role in Proust's writing process by citing from the manuscript versions of his novel, as well as from his correspondence, essays and the lengthy critical appartus accompanying his translations of Ruskin. Eells reflects here on why Proust was attracted to Victorian culture, and how he incorporated it into his novel. The works of the British novelists he was most interested in-Thomas Hardy and George Eliot-address questions of gender which Proust develops in his own work. He builds Sodome et Gomorrhe I, the section of his novel focusing on homosexuality, on a series of explicit citations and guarded allusions to Shakespeare, Darwin Walter Scott, Oscar Wilde and Robert Louis Stevenson. Eells explores how Proust followed in the pioneering footsteps of those British writers who had ventured beyond the boundaries of conventional sexuality, though he took pains to erase their traces in the definitive version of his work. This study also highlights how Proust made his fictitious painter Elstir into a master of ambiguity, by modeling his art on Turner, the Pre-Raphaelites and Whistler. Eells shows that Proust drew on Victorian culture in his depiction of sexual ambiguity, arguing that he confounded eroticism and aestheticism in the way he inextricably linked the man-woman figure with British art and literature. As Proust aestheticized male and female homosexuality using references to British art and letters, Eells coins the term 'Anglosexuality' to refer to his characters of the third sex. She defines Anglosexuality as an intersexuality represented through intertextuality, as an artistic sensitivity, an aesthetic stance, and a new way of seeing. Proust's Cup of Tea thus demonstrates that Victorian culture and homoeroticism form one of the cornerstones of Proust's monumental work.


'…an important contribution to scholarly research in 19th-century literature, but with a wider appeal to readers interested in questions of gender, intercultural exchanges, and intertextual as well as transmedia relations.' Professor Jean-Jacques Lecercle, Department of English, Cardiff University 'The book's remarkable strength consists in a vastness of scope controlled by a tautness of purpose … Of enormous value and interest to Proust scholars are the insights drawn from such archival sources as manuscripts, letters, and juvenalia - [Eells's] impressive research in ferreting out obscured Anglo references is matched only by the subtlety and penetration of her analysis.' Professor Margaret Gray, Department of French and Italian, Indiana University and author of Postmodern Proust 'The foundation of Eells's work is a learned, thorough and illuminating survey of Proust's engagement with English literature, art and culture… the material on which the book is based is fascinating and suggestive at almost every point… (Eells's) knowledge of the Proust archives, and her experience of editing Sodome et Gomorrhe… give her an inestimable advantage.' Times Literary Supplement '… the work has considerable interest and value for a wide readership, including specialists in Proust studies and Victorian literature, as well as those interested in the more general fields of intercultural and interaesthetic exchange.' Modern Language Review 'The author's wide-ranging study of English literature and art is as engaging and convincing as what she has to say about Proust. The book contains an extensive blibliography […] as well as a useful index. The inclusion of eighteen black and white plates effectively supports the analysis of Proust's visual influences. This study should prove valuable for scholars of Proust or Victorian literature and art specifically, but it will also be enjoyed by anyone interested in intercultural study in general.' French Review

Table of Contents

Contents: General editor's preface; Preface; Introducing Anglosexuality; A gay English tea party; Departures from Ruskin; A closeted reading of the Victorians; Writing double; Elstir the 'Modern Painter'; The visual revolution; Proust's phrase-type; Concluding insights; Bibliography; Index.

About the Series

Studies in European Cultural Transition

Studies in European Cultural Transition
The European dimension of research in the humanities has come into sharp focus over recent years, producing scholarship which ranges across disciplines and national boundaries. Until now there has been no major channel for such work. This series aims to provide one, and to unite the fields of cultural studies and traditional scholarship. It will publish the most exciting new writing in areas such as European history and literature, art history, archaeology, language and translation studies, political, cultural and gay studies, music, psychology, sociology and philosophy. The emphasis will be explicitly European and interdisciplinary, concentrating attention on the relativity of cultural perspectives, with a particular interest in issues of cultural transition.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Comparative Literature